better reader/better writer

I have been reading a lot about writing, largely out of fear. I have a lot of writing to do in the next few years and I feel like I don’t have a handle on my habits yet. I just finished Air & Light & Time & Space by Helen Sword and my biggest take-away from the text is that I need to be a better reader first. I think the two are linked and one follows from the other.

I read a lot. But I don’t necessarily read deeply. I have learned to read academic articles in pieces: abstract, results, discussion, maybe methodology, maybe literature review. To be a better academic writer I have to start to read articles in more depth. I need to be able to see the structure of the literature review. I need to be able to analyze the methodology. The results and discussion are meaningless if I can’t form my own opinion about the process.

Literature reviews can be surprisingly interesting and occasionally dramatic. The more I read them, the more I think it is an art I must master. I am definitely not there yet, but since finishing the book mentioned above, I have started paying more attention to the structure of the reviews and I think it is paying off.

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